Don't Believe The Spin

Visiting Moscow a few weeks ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell started off a working meeting with a champagne toast. His counterpart, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, joined in.

Going Nowhere Fast

David Satter is profoundly disillusioned with post-Soviet Russia. Actually, that's putting it mildly; his new book, "Darkness at Dawn" (352 pages. Yale University Press), paints about as abject a picture as I've seen of the corruption, cronyism, lawlessness and incompetence that have flourished under Boris Yeltsin and his handpicked successor, Vladimir Putin.

A Frosty Friendship

Vladislav Achalov has only good things to say about Saddam Hussein. He is a "strong man," he says, "fighting for his country." A former deputy Defense minister in the U.S.S.R., Achalov met Saddam "several times" during his frequent visits to Baghdad, most recently last April at the Iraqi dictator's lavish birthday celebrations in Tikrit.

The Moscow Connection: From Russia With Love

The U.S.-Russia relationship has always had its tricky moments. But things have begun to look a lot trickier since Washington accused Russian companies of supplying Saddam Hussein with weapons that could kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

Damaged Relations

The U.S. government accuses Stanislav Aderin's company of supplying weapons to Saddam Hussein's army.Aderin, a senior executive at the Russian arms contractor KBP Instrument Design Bureau, hotly dismisses the allegations--with a somewhat discomfiting argument. "If our missiles were being used in Iraq, the American losses would be a lot higher," says Aderin huffily. "But since the American casualties are so light, I assume that our products aren't there."The Pentagon begs to differ.

Balancing Act

George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin lately have been spending a lot of time on the phone with each other.In one of their most recent exchanges--soon after the U.S. president's Tuesday announcement that he was ending diplomatic efforts to solve the Iraq crisis--the Russian leader repeated his reasons for opposing military action.

The Battle Of The Presses

The report on Russian TV last week didn't mince words or images. First, American actor Martin Sheen warned of a return to McCarthyism and an incipient "witch hunt" against anyone who dared criticize the Bush administration's war plans for Iraq.

Chechnya: The Official Story

Our small group of journalists sat on benches in a huge, empty hangar draped with Russian military banners, listening as two high-ranking officers in green camouflage gave us a situation report on the rebellious republic of Chechnya.

Russia

Hans Wilhelm Steinfeld, a journalist for Norwegian TV, has lived in Russia for two decades. He's had his share of run-ins with the authorities over the years, but what happened last week was a novelty even for him.

Shipping: Just Missing The Boat

Figuring out where the Prestige, a single-hull oil tanker that sank Nov. 19 off the northwest coast of Spain, originated isn't easy. The tanker was captained by a Greek, crewed by Filipinos and Romanians, owned by a Liberian-registered company, chartered by a Swiss-based Russian commodities trader and flew the Bahamian flag.

Russia: Is Putin Looking To Expand The Chechnya W

Will Vladimir Putin make a pre-emptive strike of his own? In Moscow, rumors are swirling of an impending Russian military move against Georgia. A source close to the Russian General Staff has told NEWSWEEK that military leaders have completed planning for an assault on the Pankisi Gorge, a remote canyon that has been used as a hideout by rebels from neighboring Chechnya.

Under The Jackboot

It was the kind of story that people in Chechnya know only too well. In the deep of night, Russian troops clad in camouflage uniforms and masks surrounded the village of Krasnostepnovskoye.

Fall Arts Preview: Gergiev Goes Global

Sitting behind the desk in his St. Petersburg office, Valery Gergiev is talking about travel again. "Ah, Air France," he says, brandishing the latest addition to his collection of frequent-flier cards. "They brought it yesterday, but I haven't had a chance to use it yet." Have no fear--he will.

Sleeping With The Enemy

It wasn't exactly your ordinary business trip. The first thing the Russian executive saw as he walked off the plane in Baghdad last month was a slogan emblazoned on the floor of the jetway: DOWN WITH THE U.S.!

Prayers Vs. Realpolitik

For Russia's million or so Buddhists, it was to be an occasion of a lifetime. Their revered spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was set to visit on Sept. 9.

Trouble Next Door

It's been three years since her husband disappeared, and Irina Krasovskaya has told the story over and over again. But there are still moments when she can't quite hold back the tears.

Cleaning Up The Game

For Oleg Deripaska, life divides neatly into before and after, and the line that separates them is the rise to power of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Three years ago Deripaska was just another obscure businessman, slugging it out in Russia's lucrative and brutal aluminum industry.

From Leningrad To St. Petersburg

When Vladimir Putin last visited the United States, George W. Bush took pride in showing him around his Texas ranch. This time around, it's the Russian leader who's going to be showing off his hometown: St.

All That Glitters

Three years ago, British Petroleum retreated from Russia. In the wild and woolly days of post-communist euphoria, it had invested $480 million in a Siberian producer called Sidanco with rights to 2 billion barrels' worth of oil reserves.

BOOKS: HOW THE MIGHTY FELL

Russia's oligarchs were outsiders who became the ultimate insiders. Some of them started off as furtive traders in contraband goods. A few years later they morphed into multimillionaires, emerging from their lavish villas and chauffeured Mercedeses to call the shots at the highest levels of government.

PUTIN'S NEXT TEST

Boris Berezovsky is working hard. The man who once was Russia's most powerful business tycoon and political kingmaker lives in London, exiled under a cloud of growing criminal investigations.

St. Petersburg's Revenge

"The Russian Ark" may just be one of the craziest movies ever made. It was set entirely in the famed Hermitage art museum, with hundreds of period-costumed actors romping through three centuries of Russian history.

The Ways Of A Warlord

Like most Afghans toting assault rifles and grenade launchers, the men loitering beneath the walls of the mud-brick fort outside the northern town of Aliabad look like they're spoiling for a fight.

Plot Against Powell?

The green-and-white bus in the dusty Kabul courtyard is outwardly indistinguishable from thousands of others on the roads here. But Afghan security forces believe this vehicle is anything but ordinary.

Kabul Time Capsule

To visit the U.S. Embassy in Kabul--or indeed most other places in this city--is to enter a time warp. When I recently visited Zalmay Khalilzad, the newly appointed American envoy to Afghanistan, young Marines decked out in full combat gear and desert camouflage waved us through the embassy compound toward a 1960s concrete hulk festooned with sandbags. "It's a little bit weird [living here,]" said our Marine officer escort. "Just take the 12-year-old beer.

Seeing History For Yourself

Since September 11, NEWSWEEK's reporters have witnessed many momentous events, from ground zero to Afghanistan. Here, several of our frontline correspondents tell what they saw--and felt--in covering some of the most memorable moments in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.It was the first Friday--Sept. 14--and President Bush had come to inspect the ruined area not yet known as Ground Zero.

A New Arms Game

Vladimir Belous should be very disappointed. The former general, a veteran of the Soviet Union's elite nuclear-strike forces, has spent the better part of his retirement working to discredit U.S. plans for missile defense.

Robbery, Russian Style

The call came in the wee hours of a frigid subzero morning. This winter has been a particularly cold one in Moscow, and it was harder than usual to drag myself out from under the warm covers.

Putin's Pragmatism

It's probably dangerous to use body language as a barometer of international relations, but I couldn't help being struck by Vladimir Putin's demeanor just before he left for his U.S. summit this week.The Russian President was leaning back in his seat, one arm raised to the back of his chair.

A Poison Pill?

Khodemuddin is an Afghan warlord with a thing for flowers. The Northern Alliance leader has converted two rooms in his house into a makeshift greenhouse filled with orderly rows of potted red geraniums.

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